Yakuza 6 Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Yakuza 6 RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network In Defense Of Smaller World Maps: Bigger Isn't Necessarily Better https://www.gameskinny.com/8hr4y/in-defense-of-smaller-world-maps-bigger-isnt-necessarily-better https://www.gameskinny.com/8hr4y/in-defense-of-smaller-world-maps-bigger-isnt-necessarily-better Thu, 28 Mar 2019 16:29:46 -0400 RobotsFightingDinosaurs

Every writer has a backlog of hot takes sitting in their draft folder on Twitter. Old classics such as:

"Actually, Majora's Mask is a better Legend of Zelda game than Ocarina of Time."

And of course, forbidden opinions that should never see the light of day like:

"Actually, The Simpsons Hit and Run is a better game than all of the Grand Theft Auto games except for GTAV."

This list of controversial gaming opinions gets longer and longer every day, until something snaps and the writer's truth must be told.

Well, today was the breaking point for me and it's time to speak some truth. In an open-world game, a smaller world map is, in almost every case, better than a larger one.

Case Studies

Image via NexusMods

There have been tons of open world games thus far in 2019 and late 2018, all of varying quality. From the relatively well-received The Division 2 to the disappointing Anthem and Fallout 76, developers have continued a years-long trend of using map size as a selling point for their games.

The Division 2 doubled down on the size of the map as a selling point, claiming that their version of Washington DC. was a 1:1 scale replica of the actual Washington DC. The claim was largely backed up with Google Maps and Street View comparisons.

For real-world locations, this can be really cool. Exploring fictionalized versions of San Francisco in Watch Dogs 2, Los Angeles in Grand Theft Auto V, and New York City in countless games is a ton of fun. Doubly so if you live in the city that's being represented. (Still waiting for a good recreation of Chicago, game devs. No, Watch Dogs doesn't count. Chicago is not a series of islands.)

Larger maps seem to be equated with having more to do in the mind of the consumer, but it's not easy for developers to fill them with interesting content. Consider Grand Theft Auto V, and its more recent Rockstar-developed compadre Red Dead Redemption 2.

The former has an alive and bustling metropolis in Los Santos, but that's only a relatively small portion of the map. There are gigantic swaths of land in GTAV that are just empty desert or forest, devoid of life and excitement. Sure, there are things to do -- there are always side missions to be found, and if all else fails, you can blow stuff up and see what happens, but the fun isn't particularly concentrated. 

This goes double for a game like Red Dead Redemption 2The vistas are beautiful and varied, and ostensibly a large point of the game was for the player to enjoy the journey from point A to point B. That's all well and good, but if the journey is the same five-to-seven minute affair every time, no matter how beautiful the journey is, it'll get samey pretty fast and a player will want to skip past it.

Games like Crackdown and Saints Row get around this by making the simple act of traversing the map a huge part of the fun. Other games don't really have that luxury and the concentration of activities and diversions really becomes a problem, especially for folks striving for 100% completion.

Thinking Small

Image via Engadget

In my extremely well-researched, and therefore incredibly correct opinion, the gold standard for a map in an open-world game is the four-or-five square block maps of the Yakuza series. 

Before you get your pitchforks out, hear me out on this. 

Yakuza's maps are small, yes, but they're absolutely packed with things to do, many times mere steps from one another. Having the entire scope of the game condensed into a relatively small box means that every single aspect of the map can be fleshed out in a way that is unique compared to other open-world games.

There aren't any buildings that look copy-and-pasted, each and every business name, apartment sign, lamppost, and public park looks unique and distinct from each other one.

All this makes movement easier, too. Individual streets are not just distinct and recognizable, but there are only a few of them in the game. You don't need to use a map to, say, get to a mission that's at the Club Sega on South Nakamichi street. You've passed by that landmark a million times, you know where it is.

Subconsciously, this does a lot to keep the looming specter of dissonance away. Every time a player pauses the game to check the map, the action stops and the player is ripped away from the experience of escaping into the world of the game for a bit. It's necessary to have a small map if the goal is for the player to have a clear and, above all, detailed mental map of the game world. 

Super Mario Odyssey wasn't just a master class in 3D platforming, it was also a perfect case study for something like this. In creating a ton of smaller worlds, the developers made it easier for players to make mental landmarks, and therefore, learn the map.

Other great open-world games know this as well. I loved Spider-Man (PS4) for many reasons, but one of them was that its New York was both full of landmarks and highly condensed.

Like the Kamurocho of the Yakuza series, Spider-Man's New York City only takes a few minutes to traverse if you're swinging around like a maniac, and the placement of waypoints and landmarks on-screen made it easy to know both where you were and where you were going at any time.

And although, yes, Spider-Man (PS4)'s map was a few orders of magnitude bigger than Yakuza's, the key is that, due to key design choices, it felt small. Moving around it was quick and painless, with no lulls in getting from point A to point B.

You'd never have the Skyrim problem of thinking you needing to travel 500-ish meters to your next objective before realizing you'll actually need to traverse around a mountain to get there, then either go 2000 meters out of your way or try to break the game's physics and brute force your way over the mountain with a horse.

These things make a map seem huge and empty.

Another thing that the Yakuza series does in service of its maps is to make it a point to allow the player to actually enter and patronize many of the buildings around the streets of Kamurocho. This is half the fun of the game; exploring the shops and entertainment venues around town and taking advantage of their minigames. The way all of these diversions are condensed gives the player a feeling that they're not a tacked-on part of the game world, they're integral to giving the world life.

This affects side missions, too. There are very few optional quests in the Yakuza series that are simple fetch quests, or "go over there and kill some guys" missions. And when they are, they're all wrapped up in a narrative that is either silly, heartwarming, or wonderfully bittersweet. You care about the characters -- they're all named, voiced, and have lives distinct from what the player character is doing at any given time. 

Defining "Scope"

This kind of stuff is important in a world-building sense. Scope isn't just a question of the square footage in a game's world map, it's a question of density. An empty-feeling, but huge open world doesn't have the scope that a small map that's packed with life and activities does. It's analogous to a high-quality photo that can either be viewed in all of its glory in its original size, or can be blown up, causing visual glitches, blur, and pixelation. 

For me, and I believe a whole lot of other gamers, the question of resolution is more important than the question of scale.

Scale is important if, and only if, a game developer needs more space to cram in activities and features to a map that's already packed to the brim with truly interesting stuff to do. Otherwise, it's just empty space for taking screencaps of beautiful vistas and taking part in random shootouts, but not much more. Red Dead Redemption 2 can get away with this because it is, at its heart, a game about isolation. Few other games have that excuse.

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Yakuza 6 Food Combinations Guide https://www.gameskinny.com/rvqnk/yakuza-6-food-combinations-guide https://www.gameskinny.com/rvqnk/yakuza-6-food-combinations-guide Tue, 17 Apr 2018 14:28:49 -0400 Ashley Shankle

Food is back and better than ever in Yakuza 6, and with the addition of the hunger gauge, Kiryu has become ravenous.

Though you can certainly go through the game eating random foods at nearby restaurants, there are a number of dish combinations at each establishment that grant additional EXP bonuses. It's in your best interest to order these combinations more often than otherwise because of the bonuses they offer, though really there is just too much food to keep Kiryu on a strictly combo-based diet.

This guide will list out all of the available food combinations Kiryu can chow down on in both Kamurocho and Onomichi in a pretty simple fashion. Kamurocho restaurant food combinations are listed first, and Onomichi restaurant combinations are listed after.

Do keep in mind that most of these combinations require a fair amount of stomach space to eat. 

Kamurocho

Wild Jackson

Wild Combo: Wild Burger, Wild Fried Chicken

Akaushimaru

Blissfully Drinking Alone: Draft Beer, Beef Plate

Wette Kitchen

Delicious Sides: Onion Ring, Tomato Onion Soup

Quadra Garden

Full of Cake: Cheesecake, Chocolate Cake

Smile Burger

The Standard Smile Set: Smile Friends, Smile Burger, Smile Shake

Healthy Smile: Tuna Burger, Smile Salad

Ikinari Steak

A Solid Lineup: Tenderloin Steak 200g, Salad, Soup

Eating Wild: Wild Hamburg Steak 300g, Wild Steam 300g

Kanrai

A Yakinuki Staple: Salted Tongue, Kalbi, Sirloin

Nothing Grilled at Yakiniku!?: Spicy Beef Soup, Stone-cooked Bibimbap, Kimchi Combo

Bantam

Depth of 30 Years: Hibiki 30 Years Old, The Macallan 30 Years Old, Balantine's 30 Years Old

Sushi Zanmai

Tunalicious: Tuna Zanmai, Special Bluefin Tuna Bowl

Ringer Hut

Veggie Lover: Vegetable Champon, Veggie-filled Soup, Vegetable Saraudon

Gindaco Highball Tavern

This is Gindaco Highball!: The Kaku Highball, Absolutely Tasty Takoyaki

Osaka King

Spicy Combination: Shichuan Dandan Noodles, Mapo Tofu, Shrimp in Chili Sauce

Griddle Trio: Mixed Fried Rice, Original Fried Gyoza, Ramen

M Side Cafe

bread over rice food combo in Yakuza 6

Bread Over Rice: Toast, Original Bread, Special bread

Fuji Soba

Harmony of Rice and Noodles: Katsudon, any soba

Rice Lover: Katsudon, Curry Rice

You can get Katsudon, Curry Rice, and any soba at once to trigger both combos.

Kyushu No. 1 Star

The Holy Trinity: Kyushu Tonkatsu Ramen, Fried Rice, Gyoza

Yoronotaki

I'll Have This to Start!: Draft Beer (Medium), Edamame

I've Gotta Order That!: Hand-selected Vinegar Mackerel, Juicy Mince Cutlet, Smelt Fish with Roe

Sushi Gin

The Ultimate Sushi Gin: Kiwami Chirashi, Kiwami Set, Kiwami Seafood Rice Bowl

Cafe Alps

An Elegant Time at Alps: Special Shortcake or Strawberry Parfait, Sandwich Set

Onomichi

Yonetoku

The Yonetoku Standard!: Meat Nabe, Crunchy Shochu Highball, Stew

Oyster Shack

Testing Your Luck: Fisherman Soup, Octopus Sashimi, Squid Sashimi

Jumangoku Chinese Soba:

Large Chashu Onomichi Ramen, Large Onomichi Ramen

La Pente

Aspiring Somelier!?: White Wine, Red Wine

Snack New Gaudi:

Quick & Tasty: Edamame, Pickles

That's it for all the combinations of food you'll come across in Yakuza 6. Keep an eye out for other Yakuza 6 guides here on GameSkinny!

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Yakuza 6 Review: A Fitting End for the Dragon of Dojima https://www.gameskinny.com/clgk3/yakuza-6-review-a-fitting-end-for-the-dragon-of-dojima https://www.gameskinny.com/clgk3/yakuza-6-review-a-fitting-end-for-the-dragon-of-dojima Sat, 31 Mar 2018 22:06:27 -0400 Ashley Shankle

There are few game series I hold in as high regard as Yakuza. Kazuma Kiryu and the red thread of fate that holds him to the Tojo Clan have compelled me to throw money at Sega since the original game released on the PlayStation 2. That same red thread has connected players to his story, too. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life is where that thread is finally severed. This is the end for the Dragon of Dojima.

Yakuza 6 is two things. A first-run with the new Dragon Engine and Kazuma Kiryu's last time in the spotlight.

With those two things in mind, this is a very ambitious game. The graphics are better than they've ever been, slipping into side content is more organic (and accidental) than ever, it's filled to the brim with new minigames, and it packs a heavy punch in the Japanese celebrity department.

The Yakuza series finally picked up in popularity in North America last year with the release of Yakuza 0 and Kiwami. It's bittersweet to see Kiryu exit the stage just as the games shake off the old and busted "Japanese GTA" preconception so many once held about this series.

A person stands on a stage wearing an orange mascot head while singing karaokeDon't mind me.

Newer fans who just started with the Yakuza series last year and total newcomers can jump into the game without having to go through previous entries. As always, there are options to get caught up on the story. It's not the same, but it'll do.

Those who have struggled with Kiryu through all his trials and tribulations over the years won't be able to as comfortably slide into this entry as previous games due to the new Dragon Engine. It's sleeker, but it is different. Some old fogies such as myself may grumble as get used to the new Dragon Engine but it doesn't take long to adjust.

The new engine is going to get brought up a lot in this review because of the number of changes it brings and how it affected the final product. The differences between the previous engine and the one seen in Yakuza 6 are very obvious. They're not bad, but they certainly do make this return to Kamurocho a little different.

The Content's in the Sides

As with every previous entry in the series, Yakuza 6 is packed with main storyline and side quest content. Every inch of the game's explorable area is littered with tiny details that immerse you in the bustling Kamurocho and the sleepy Onomichi, and both areas have plenty for you to do.

Minigames are abound here, but longtime fans may feel underwhelmed. Along with the new (and obviously more flexible) Dragon Engine come new and more in-depth minigames -- however, at the cost of old staples. Shogi, bowling, and both casinos have been stripped from Kamurocho, much to my own personal dismay. Playing Koi-koi at the underground casino has always been my go-to.

The new minigames add some variety to the series, which has staunchly stuck to its own traditions. If that's for better or worse depends on whether you like the new minigames, but there is more than meets the eye (and far more than mentioned here).

Playing the livechat minigame in Yakuza 6, with the player talking to a woman in a bikiniProtip: Don't initiate the Live Chat minigame with people around. This was downright awkward with my husband in the room. 

The new baseball minigame, in which Kiryu manages a local baseball team, is easily one of my least favorite minigames in the series. It's boring, the menu for it is ugly, and the related side stories tend to be drawn out and on the less interesting side of the spectrum. I kept pushing through, but I did not enjoy it one bit.

The Clan Creator minigame is much akin to certain mobile games in which you wait for your resource to build up, then deploy your units to push through to the final objective. This is easily the most complex of the new minigames as you must collect characters to join your clan, manage their hierarchy,  manually deploy them, and manually trigger skills in battle. It's the most complex and even features online play, which is a definite plus if you find yourself getting really into this one.

My favorite new minigame, though, is pretty much a rail shooter... with fish. It's great! That's about all I'm saying about that one. It's great, I love it. I wish it were longer. (Sega, can we please get the new House of the Dead on PC or something? PLEASE?)

In addition, there is now the new "minigame" where you bond with bar patrons and make new friends. This is done via just talking to them most of the time, but sometimes you must actively participate in their conversations, sing karaoke, or play darts to get them to warm up to you. This is one I found particularly endearing, even if it wasn't the most exciting.

Playing the bar minigame in Yakuza 6

There are, of course, more minigames in Yakuza 6. Some absolutely unexpected, some par for the course. Usually, I do not highlight the minigames in my reviews for this series, but the removal of previous staples makes the new entries that much more important in this game. Yakuza isn't Yakuza without the side content. 6 has it in spades, but it's just different from before.

There are plenty of side stories here, but you'll find there are less than in previous games. That said, the game more fluidly segues into them. The side stories are as varied and bizarre as always, and this time around, they were probably my favorite part of the game.

Beat'em Up, Damnit!

Combat in Yakuza 6 is... well, it's simplified. Let's put it this way: I've been playing a lot of Dynasty Warriors lately, and moving onto Yakuza 6 wasn't all that different.

Basically, every combat improvement/aspect added with 0 and Kiwami has been removed this time around. There are not a ton of Heat Actions, there are no stances, and Kiryu has to rely on his Extreme Heat Mode to really get things done (like picking up motorcycles).

My entire time beating people into submission was constantly overshadowed by my wishes that the combat was more Kiwami and less Musou, if you get my drift. But this is one thing I am certain is caused by time constraints or the dev team learning to work with the new engine, and is not something I can legitimately complain about.

Combat in Yakuza 6 is more fluid than it's ever been and it shows a great framework for what combat in later Dragon Engine games, but it certainly does make everyone feel like a much bigger wimp than in Yakuza 5, 0, and Kiwami. It makes me miss the knuckle-busting boss fights from Kiwami for sure.

Dragon Engine Rises

Though it's certainly not perfect, Yakuza 6 fits in just fine with the rest of the series in terms of tone and content and is a fine entry for even new players to start with.

In some ways, it's fitting Kiryu takes his leave as Sega rings in their own new generation for the Yakuza series. And while some aspects of the series were lost in transition to the new Dragon Engine, they surely aren't to be gone for long. 

I do not think this one is going to make it to the top of many Yakuza game tier lists because of the clear growing pains as they've migrated to the new engine, but that by no means equates to the game being bad. It may even be one of the best in the series from a quality standpoint, but it needs that extra oomph to really go the distance.

This is easily the most gorgeous and seamless game in the series yet. A must-play for fans to see the evolution of the series and end of Kazuma Kiryu's journey. A "you should probably play this" for those unfamiliar, Yakuza 6 is a fantastic game that will stick with you for a long time. I am sad to see Kiryu go, but we'll at least get to see him again in Kiwami 2 later this year.

You can buy Yakuza 6 on Amazon when it releases on April 17.  

(Disclaimer: Writer was granted a press copy of the game from the publisher for this review.)

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